Archive for January, 2012

Team-tastic! 5 observations from my MBA experience

If you see your MBA path as a solo endeavor – think again!  You will have group work during orientation, group assignments during classes, and groups you seek out for your own study sessions.  B-school is nothing if not a social endeavor in managing behaviors, building relationships, and negotiating ideas for assignments.

I happen to be fortunate enough to have a really great MBA core team.  And I’ve been equally lucky to have sought out some great study partners outside of my core team as well.  This past weekend, we completed the Internal Case Competition — another opportunity to work closely with a great team.  I’ve developed some observations based my experiences with my teams this year, and I thought I would pass those along to all of those prospective students who are trying to get a better idea of what B-school is all about.

1) Come prepared.  Our best meetings occur when everyone has some idea of what’s going on.  This doesn’t mean you have to have all of the answers – but at least be able to ask intelligent questions.

2) Humility.  I think one of the reasons that the teams I’ve been a part of have been so successful is that we are all willing to recognize we don’t have all the answers.  I’m consistently amazed at how much my fellow students know.  Always be willing to sit back and listen for a bit.  It makes the conversations so much more interesting.

3) Challenge each other and be challenged.  Respectfully.  We all come from different backgrounds with different opinions and different knowledge, and we use that to make each other work harder and think further through the problem.  Ask your team members about their opinions, share your own, and challenge each other to think even more deeply through problems and assignments.

4) Work through things together.  Take your time.  Plan accordingly.  If you have a difficult assignment, find a room, shut the door, and start from scratch.  Each student brings a lot individually – you will be amazed at what you can accomplish together.

5) Enjoy yourself!  Laugh.  Make goofy jokes.  It’s worth the extra time and it will help you bond with your team.

Get ready for lots of work with other people. It can be intimidating to try to do all of this school work with a group of people you don’t know.  But if you approach the group work with an open mind and a desire to learn, you will find that your team based work has a huge, positive impact on your MBA experience.

 

 


Real world experience: VITA Day 1

Friday was the first day of VITA (a volunteer income tax program, with which we complete tax forms for those in need). Everything went very well! Though there were only 10 of us volunteering this evening, we have about 70 volunteers overall. Most are MAcc students, but some are undergraduate or law students. We had a fair amount of online training to prepare for this, so it was fun to actually put the training to use and help people!

Working in teams of two, we used supporting documents and information from “clients” (this is done for free) to fill out federal and state tax returns. The online system we use helps to generate the forms pretty easily and determines the amount of money owed or expected to be refunded. It was wonderful to be able to help people with their questions, and everyone was appreciative! We got done early, but none of us volunteers was in a big hurry to leave, as it is always fun to be able to chat with other MAcc students whenever possible! We will be doing VITA through early March, so be on the lookout for other posts about it.

Some of us after completing the first evening of tax returns!

 


The Other Side Of The Table :: 7 tips if you’re going to a career fair

I did a lot of recruiting when I worked for Aerotek, a national, private staffing firm with an office here in Dublin, Ohio.

But that recruiting was for seasoned engineers, finance professionals and high-level customer service agents for Fortune 500 companies here in Columbus and around the nation.  So when I started my internship with OCLC, we decided not to put any focus on recruiting and to instead put it on areas where I needed more development.

Recruiting season has really kicked up at OCLC recently, however, so I have been lending my services and doing career fairs for the organization to fill our summer internship and fellowship positions, focusing on candidates that are just emerging from their programs.

I’ve been to career fairs as an undergrad student and again as an MLHR candidate to find my summer internship last year.  I have to tell you, it was strange being on the other side of the table/booth and being able to walk right in without filling out forms, registration or name tags because I was an employer.

I know that some first years out there are still looking for summer internships and there are quite a few of us second years looking for full-time positions, post-program.  Here are some of my tips for career fairs, having been an insider and outsider now.

  1. Be prepared –  Come with lots of resumes and a cover letter if you are targeting a specific company or industry.  The candidates that came up to me without a resume did not get the full benefits of the experience.  Without a resume, I can’t look for hidden talents that might make you fit for a position you never knew existed.  And have questions ready.
  2. Know what you want – I had a lot of International Studies, Communications, English and Marketing majors come up to our booth.  My first question after introducing myself was, “What are you looking for?”  The answer, “Uh…” or, “I haven’t really thought about it…” immediately turned me off.  Many of these candidates were seniors and should have a solid idea about what they want to do with their four years of hard work and effort.
  3. Be open to options – On the other side of the coin, I’m ok with candidates saying they’re open to options and haven’t nailed down exactly what they want.  In that case, it’s better to say, “This is what I have done before and this is what I might be good at it.”  That answer actually excites me much more than “UH…”.
  4. Be comfortable with yourself – I had some pretty twitchy candidates come up to me.  Their nervousness was understandable, but remember this: Recruiters are busy, under pressure and desperately trying to fill their positions.  They are sometimes just as nervous as you are!  And if you feel like you are truly a great candidate for a position, act like it and own it.  Confidence makes a world of difference
  5. Work on your hand shake –  It is the second thing I notice about candidates.  It is your introduction to the recruiter while you make your verbal introduction to the recruiter.  Clammy hands, not as big of a deal.  People get nervous, palms sweat.  Discreetly wipe your palm inside your pocket before extending it.  A flimsy, weak handshake on the other hand?  That’s an impression killer.  When making a handshake, aim to line up your palms, not your fingers to their palm, and give a solid squeeze to the area behind the fingers so you don’t crush them, and give a gentle pump and a smile.
  6. Look the part – This is the FIRST thing I notice about candidates.  This should be obvious, but people tend to wander in when they see a career fair if it’s at the Student Union.  But nothing hurts your impression on the recruiter more than showing up in sweatpants, flip flops and a hoodie.  If you see a company you like on the brochure, run home, put on a shirt/blouse and pants/skirt at least, and come back.  If you do dress up, make sure your clothes fit, you have a belt if your shirt is tucked in and for ladies, don’t dress like you’re going to the local bar or club.  And if you wear a suit, make sure it is a solid color and fits well.
  7. Finally – don’t insult the recruiter.  I had people say, “I’m sure I can handle the HR internship.  I mean, how hard can it be?”  These people had no experience and assumed they could do an HR professional’s job with no training or prior knowledge and education.  This was extremely insulting and earned them a lot of negative points in my book.

Hope these tips help and good luck on your internship/job hunt(s)!

 

OSU Arts & Sciences Internship Roundtable


WPMBA from an hour away

A year ago, when I was going through the process of applying for the WPMBA Program, one of my biggest concerns was the commute.  When I had a phone interview before getting accepted, the interviewers even asked me about the drive time and if it was going to be acceptable to manage both work and class.  On a good day (good meaning, no chance of weather or traffic), it takes me an hour and a half to get to campus from where I work.  Then there’s an hour drive home.  Working and living this far from campus can be a challenge, however, here are some tips:

  • Talk with your boss before you begin the process to discuss work flexibility.  On class days, I leave work early and make up the time by working a little longer on non-class days or in the evenings at home since the majority of my work can be accomplished from my laptop.
  • Also, factor in fuel and vehicle maintenance in the costs of the program.
  • Plan for traffic issues.  For a 6:00 p.m. class, my goal is to make it to the parking lot by 5:30.  Now, that does not always happen with unpredictable traffic issues.  When it looks like it might rain or snow, I leave a little bit earlier too.
  • For group projects, find teammates who can respect your drive.  I have been fortunate to have groups that have met before class or on the weekends.  Also, utilizing Skype is helpful.  Be accommodating and up front about your drive time and be as flexible as possible of when to meet.  Try not use your distance as an excuse.
  • Stay up on maintenance on your vehicle.  If you know your car is reliable, you won’t have that to worry about on your drive.
  • Audio Books.  Purchase some of your required reading as an audio book and listen to it on your drive.
  • Plan for the day.  Get gas when you aren’t pressed for time and pack supper/snacks if you don’t want to stop at fast food every day.
  • Create a driving playlist of upbeat songs for the drive home to help you stay awake.
  • Find a driver – someone willing to drive you around every day.  (I’m still working on this one, maybe if I win the lottery, this will happen.)
Feel free to share any tips you have as well!

A VERY Belated Welcome Back

I’ve been away from the blogosphere for quite a while.

I was unpleasantly surprised by how busy the end of Autumn quarter was, and am therefore not too surprised by how hectic Winter quarter has been thus far.  Hard to believe we’re in week 4 already!

Look for some posts soon about recruiting, accepting internships, making tough decisions, saying goodbyes and getting by.

Welcome back everyone!


My Top Five …

… Restaurants in Columbus!  I’ve been blogging for almost half a year now, so it’s about time I write a post on my top five restaurants in Columbus.  I have been in Columbus for almost 10 years, so it’s only natural that a self-proclaimed “foodie” like me would come to rack up a nice list of restaurants.  A handful of those restaurants have popped up over the years more than others – much more than other – and thus, make my list of Top 5 Restaurants (in no particular order – depends on my mood!):

Northstar Café:  OK, I just said that these are in no particular order, but if I have to pick my favorite restaurant in Columbus, it’s Northstar Café.  Call me a tree-loving hippie, this all-organic, slightly expensive order-at-the-counter restaurant is just SO good.  And it’s consistent – you get the same great food, every.single.time.  First timer?  Order the Veggie Burger – you won’t miss the beef.

Yes, It's a VEGGIE BURGER!

Haiku:  Some people call this “Americanized” Sushi, but if that’s the case, then so be it.  I’ve had sushi at a lot of places in a lot of cities, and this is the best I’ve had to date, for the best price.  It’s also a fantastic place to celebrate a joyous occasion – sake bombs and loud tables are encouraged!

Betty’s:  Before I moved to the Short North, I used to make the trek from the West side of Columbus to eat there all the time.  And now, I live above it (a coincidence, I swear)!  It’s cheap, and it’s comforting.  The Betty’s Best Salad is to die for (can you say bacon and blue cheese?), and weekend brunch is also a favorite (probably because I can walk downstairs).

Basi:  This tiny Italian restaurant is tucked in an alley off of Neil Ave – you wouldn’t know it was there unless you went looking for it.  Inside, it’s romantic and cozy, and while I’ve not yet had the pleasure of enjoying it, I hear the back patio is even better.  The chef is an NYC transplant who wanted to create his NYC atmosphere for a Midwest price – and that he did.  The eggplant parm is to die for.

Barrio:  Bacon Wrapped Dates.  Need I say more?

Yes, I know that these are all in the Short North.  What can I say…I like to support local businesses?  That, and I like to be able to have wine with dinner and walk home:)  I hope you check out these favorites and the wide variety of local restaurants Columbus has to offer!  Enjoy!


The Pros and Cons of South Campus Living

Gerlach Hall, home of the Fisher graduate programs, is basically as far north as you can get on Ohio State’s campus.  I’m sure you know its located on Lane, which is essentially campus’s northern bound.  A lot of grad students thus decide to live up north, or at the beautiful Fisher Commons.  Some students even live as far north as Clintonville (a mile or two off campus)!

However, there are a few of us crazy enough to live on south campus.  As in one + mile south of Fisher.  Why, you might ask?  What could possibly drive us to live so far away?  Here is a list of the pros and cons of living on south.  And you can trust my advice – I lived there for my undergraduate years, too.

Let’s get the cons over with first…

  • If you want to live on south and stay west of High (which I would recommend…east is where a lot of Greek Life is), the closest you can get is 10th Avenue.  This will require a roughly 0.8 mile walk to Gerlach on a daily basis.  That’s not exactly short, so you’ll need to plan ahead and give yourself enough time to make the trek.
  • You will need to invest in a good pair of walking shoes.  And boots.  The walking shoes will be necessary in Autumn and Spring Quarter, when its nice out.  Often, sandals won’t make the cut.  In the winter, when there’s snow galore, you’ll want a really nice pair of boots to keep your feet warm and dry during your walk.
  • Once you leave for the day, you’re gone.  It often doesn’t make sense to walk to and from your apartment throughout the day, so when you leave for class in the morning, take food/homework/etc to keep you moving all day.  That way, you only have to hike it once.

Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?  Let’s talk pros!

  • South campus offers some great deals on apartments.  For being on campus, I have a dishwasher, a washer and dryer, a room that’s bigger than my room at home, and my own bathroom (I have three other roommates, so this is awesome)!  Further, I really don’t pay all that much more than a lot of my friends that live north or east of High.
  • South Campus Gateway and the Short North:  I live right down the street from the South Campus Gateway, which is awesome.  A lot of Fisher grad students will end up spending time here and in the Short North, so while getting to class is rough, getting to social activities is a breeze.  The South Campus Gateway is filled with restaurants, bars, and a movie theatre, and the Short North has fantastic restaurants, bars, and a monthly gallery hop.
  • When the weather is nice, the walk is awesome.  It’s really relaxing to start your day off with a relatively long walk, and the walk home can be a great way to reflect on everything you did during the day.  Yeah, you can do this when its raining or snowing, but it’s really great when there’s sun out.
  • Access to the Olentangy Bike Trail and the Jessie Owens South:  This could be true for those who live up north (except the Jessie Owens North), but I personally believe that access is still easier on south.  This makes your goal of getting and staying fit much more of a reality!
  • Grocery stores abound!  If you live up north, you’ll probably have to take a bus to the grocery store.  On south, you can still take a bus to Giant Eagle (on Neil, Fifth, North High, or the Market District in Upper Arlington), but you can visit the new and improved Kroger on 7th and High.

In sum, I love love love living on south campus.  Sure, there are times that I wish I lived up north for the convenience of getting to Fisher.  In the end though, I have really loved living on south and would definitely do it again.  Leave some comments if you have questions about living on south – I’m happy to answer!


A Case for Competition

There are certain things in life you know you should do, know you might enjoy if you do them, but are really challenging to embrace. That was my initial attitude about the MLHR internal case competition. Voluntarily give up an entire Friday and most of Saturday to work on a case, in Gerlach Hall?!  Gack! Not really what I had in mind for a good time.

But, with a little prodding, and a genuine interest in the process, I was soon signed up and teamed up with two fellow second-year students, Rachel Brokaw and Priya Jhangiani and one first-year student, Qin He. With the exception of working with Rachel, I had never worked with the other two students and, honestly, had never spent anytime in class with them either. To soothe the pre-competition transition, we met the week before at the local Panera and mapped out a tentative strategy. One of the rules of our strategy: If you disagree with an idea, speak up. If you have an idea that is out-of-the box, let’s really look at it.

And so the competition began at 7:30 am Friday, January 20 and wrapped up around 3 pm on Saturday. We were fortunate to have a “live” case presented to us by local giant, Cardinal Health. Everyone appreciated the opportunity to get feedback from professionals in the field and work on a case with real-world significance.

 

But in between plotting strategy, creating slides, practicing the presentation, sharing ideas and poring over research articles, there were moments of levity. One team drew caricatures of themselves on the white board. Another took a break in late afternoon to go exercise. We looked forward to every meal break (we were well fed!), spent time getting to know each other, talk about classes, and laugh about the stupid things that suddenly seem very funny after spending 12 hours together in a conference room. And thanks to an icy Friday night that made driving home dangerous, I enjoyed an impromptu sleepover with one of my team mates. Thank goodness I had packed my suit, just in case!

When Saturday morning arrived, we were tired, relieved, and ready to present our case. Unfortunately, we were slotted to present last, which meant a nearly unbearable wait. As other teams were happily returning from their presentations (were they doing cartwheels down the hall?), we were still nervously waiting. Finally, around noon, our turn arrived. We were calm, rehearsed, and ready to give it our best. I was so proud of my team mates who were as professional as real-world consultants.  Given the judges’ feedback, I think all teams must have been professional with forward-thinking ideas.

In total, 28 MLHR students (7 teams) competed in the internal case competition. Like me, I’m sure others stretched and pushed themselves in new ways. While everyone came away having learned valuable skills, three students won individual presentation awards, and Team 5, a group of four women with various backgrounds who had never worked together before, but met over a meal at Panera to discuss a strategy that welcomed ideas and collaborative sharing came away with first place. But even before our names were announced, I already understood the value of the case competition and the unique opportunity it presented. In that way, we all came away winners.

 

 


I went to class, which was fun … seriously!

It is hard to believe that another week has gone by! The MLK Day of Service on Jan 16 was fulfilling, and our project (raising campus safety awareness) even made the local news.

I enjoyed catching up with those I had not seen over the long weekend in classes this week. Like last quarter, I am definitely enjoying my classes. On Thursday I was talking with my roommates and mentioned “I had fraud class today, which was fun.” Then, as usual, I thought about the fact that not everyone knows that “fraud class” is actually the very legitimate AMIS 861, Fraud Examination. In addition to that clarification, I wanted to clarify the fact that I was not being sarcastic in stating that class was fun! We analyzed a vendor information list, came up with a list of suspicious vendors, and then used invoices to determine which company was likely the fraudulent company.

In my services marketing class, we discussed the different strategic positioning of various ice cream companies. That was certainly fun as well! Classes have covered fascinating and beneficial material, and as scheduling for my last quarter of classes approaches, I know there are going to be more classes that I want to take than there will be room in my schedule. It is such a blessing to truly enjoy classes!


Do you have “a passion”?

Many use the word rather loosely but not many of us have been able to relate to it very well. It’s beneficial to know and understand the true worth of passion. If i may ask, “What is your passion?”

We celebrate our parents, family, friends, history makers, colleagues for what they’ve been able to achieve but fail to realize that the very thing that led them to success was their ability to find their respective passions. It is not rare to find people in the latter years of their lives regretting the careers they chose. One is  unable to comprehend why it took someone so many years to realize he/she never had an interest in something. The truth is that while we point accusing fingers, many of us do the same.

If we take the time off our busy schedules to look within, in order to locate the bearings of our passions, I am confident we will all be successful in our chosen fields of study and career. Just take a moment and ask yourself that one question: What do I love to do, what do I do with the best of my ability/strength, what intrigues me, what makes me want to wake up every morning?

The answers wouldn’t come in a day but once you begin to consciously reflect on this, the wind would stop tossing you back and forth.  It is even more true when it comes to recruiting. Your most powerful tool (competitive advantage) in any interview is your passion – it cannot be hidden. One interviewer put it this way: “the only difference between two candidates in an interview is the passion.”

 

The will to win; the desire to succeed; and the urge to reach your full potential …

these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence (Confucius) 


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